FM 2022: We simmed Cristiano Ronaldo at every club he’s been linked with this summer

By Ben Green

Published: 16:17, 31 July 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future remains up in the air, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner linked to just about every elite European club worth their salt this summer.

However, so far he’s been a bit like the human equivalent of a hot potato, with no-one seemingly willing to gamble on the ageing superstar.

His goalscoring prowess remains unquestioned, but clubs will likely baulk at his wage demands and the effect his arrival will have on any given manager’s tactical set-up.

At 37, Ronaldo has become a player you tailor your system towards, and not the other way around, making him a tactical quagmire for prospective managers.

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Where Ronaldo ends up or which club he is best suited to remains anyone’s guess — staying at Manchester United, of course, isn’t out of the question either — but like most of life’s great mysteries, we can turn to Football Manager to find the answers.

Simulating a season on FM22, we added Ronaldo to each major club he has been linked with this summer and sat back as the Portuguese done his thing. At which club did he enjoy his most prolific season? Did he win another Champions League? Was he a major flop? The answer to those questions are revealed below…

*N.B. As this is Football Manager 2022 we simulated for the 2021/22 season but added all major transfers from this summer to the clubs used in this article. 

Real Madrid (22/1)

La Liga: 1st

Champions League: Round of 16

Goals scored: 21

It really would be a fairytale return to the Bernabeu if Florentino Perez picked up the phone and pursued one final vanity project, re-signing his pre-eminent Galactico four years after he left Real Madrid for Juventus. Back in the hallowed white of Los Blancos, CR7 managed a more than respectable 21 goals across all competitions, but he would have perhaps been a tad underwhelmed with just 11 La Liga goals.

The Pichichi Trophy — won three times by Ronaldo — was shared by Alexander Isak and Robert Lewandowski (18 apiece), but Real did win the league. Carlo Ancelotti’s men, though, fell well short of expectations in the Champions League, crashing out of the last-16 to Chelsea, with Ronaldo bagging just two goals in the competition, which came in the groups as he netted a brace in a 3-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv.

Atletico Madrid (10/1)

La Liga: 3rd

Champions League: Round of 16

Goals scored: 23

Ronaldo has been most heavily linked with a move to Atletico Madrid this summer in a transfer that would be mind-bogglingly brilliant for the neutral, heart-breaking for Madridistas and ego-boosting for those of a red and blue persuasion in the Spanish capital. It’s a fascinating prospect, Ronaldo working under Diego Simeone, but one that would actually see the Portuguese legend net more goals than in the Real Madrid save, bagging 16 in La Liga and 23 overall. Barcelona’s Lewandowski again claims the Pichichi in this world, while Ronaldo finishes sixth, again netting only two goals in the Champions League as they suffered elimination to Porto in the last-16. The elusive search for one last ‘Big Ears’ goes on for Ronaldo.

Bayern Munich (14/1)

Bundesliga: 1st

Champions League: Round of 16

Goals scored: 17

Another Champions League last-16 exit for Ronaldo, but he did ensure Bayern didn’t slip up in the Bundesliga and relinquish their long-standing stranglehold on the Meisterschale. With Lewandowski having left for Barca, Ronaldo was able to come in and keep producing the goals, though certainly not to the high standard his Polish predecessor set in Bavaria. German top-flight titles are par for the course where Bayern are concerned, so a last-16 exit in Europe and only 17 goals scored will unquestionably render this save hugely underwhelming for CR7.

Chelsea (14/1)

Premier League: 7th

Champions League: Winner

Goals scored: 22

Now this is an interesting save. Chelsea capitulated by their standards in the Premier League, finishing seventh, though this was a hugely bizarre campaign in which Aston Villa finished fourth, Burnley and Leeds finished fifth and sixth respectively, while Southampton finished dead last but claimed European football after winning the FA Cup at the expense of Manchester United in the final.

Thomas Tuchel’s men, though, did retain their Champions League crown, with Ronaldo netting five goals en route to claiming ol’ ‘Big Ears’ once again, and there was plenty of drama on the way. The script-makers produced an epic storyline as Chelsea beat Man Utd in the semi-final 6-3 on aggregate, with Ronaldo netting one of the decisive goals at Old Trafford…

Chelsea would go on to beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in the final, with new recruit Raheem Sterling netting one of the goals alongside Mason Mount and, incredibly, Saul, whose loan move was slightly more productive in the pixelated world. To top things off, Ronaldo was named in the Champions League Team of the Year and scored a penalty in the club’s 3-0 League Cup win over Man City…

Sporting CP (5/2)

Primeira Liga: 2nd

Champions League: Groups

Goals scored: 20

Quite graciously, Ronaldo has given up his £480k-a-week salary at Old Trafford to return to where it all started at Sporting. A more-than-modest £20.5k-a-week wage package in Lisbon seems a tad on the light side for a player of Ronaldo’s globally-recognised status, but it makes for a humble narrative. Unfortunately, his homecoming couldn’t be marked with anything of tangible note, finishing second in the Portuguese top flight and crashing out of the Champions League groups.

PSG (33/1)

Ligue 1: 1st

Champions League: Round of 16

Goals scored: 17

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…

… it doesn’t win you a Champions League, though.

Barcelona (50/1)

La Liga: 2nd

Champions League: Quarter-finals

Goals scored: 20

In his quest to financially cripple Barcelona for years to come, Joan Laporta said ‘sod it’ and signed Ronaldo to partner Lewandowski at the Camp Nou on this save. It’s fair to say that, despite boasting a simply outrageous side (see below), Barca couldn’t end their protracted wait for Champions League glory, nor could they win La Liga here. The old Clasico foes just aren’t meant for one another it would seem.